Most of life’s lessons are learned in retrospect. We look back and see what we could’ve done better or what we could’ve done without. We see how we spent our time and notice how we feel now, from spending our time in said way. Everything we see in retrospect informs us how we might proceed in the future.
The week between Christmas and New Years is when we feel most drawn to reflect on our lives. We usually look back at the year but sometimes our mind wanders back further into the past and we ask “how did I get here? Was it fate? Was it the choices I made?” Sometimes I think back and wonder if I’ve ever made a thoughtful decision. I know there was a period where I was an expert at not making decisions, which as I now know, is a decision in itself. But one thing that stands out is that if I would’ve done something differently in any ONE moment of my life, it would’ve changed my whole trajectory. Isn’t that crazy to think about? OR, get this, if I would’ve thought differently about any one thing that happened in my life, it could’ve also changed my whole trajectory. Usually my thinking stops there, in the wonder of life, but this year I’m going to stay in the pause a little longer and contemplate the question “have I ever been awake?”
Yoga teaches us to not ruminate on the past. But, there are lessons there, and questions. So when I ask this question, it’s not to reprimand myself for floating along, but to let it impact my life from this moment forward. These are the most valuable lessons in life. The ones where we leave the past in the past, but decide how we want our present and who we are today, to impact our future self. So whether I’ve floated along, have been conscious or unconscious, I’m paying attention now—and that’s what matters.
When you become awake to your life, you can think about the future and decide how you want to make decisions going forward. This requires the ability to pause before moving forward. Without the pause, you’ll find yourself in a tumbleweed of reactions just trying to get to the next thing. But with presence, each moment of the way you can make choices that you feel good about. Choices that you’ve contemplated with big questions like “is this what I want?” “where might this take me?” “does this resonate with who I want to be?” These are questions that can only be answered if your willing to stop before saying “yes or no” to question that persists in front of you.
As the new year approaches, the year of clarity as I’m calling it (20/20, get it?), give yourself this moment to pause, reflect, contemplate, decide, look ahead, and then move forward. Let’s look a little closer at it:
Pause – give yourself quiet space without distractions
Reflect – actively think about this past year or any duration of time
Contemplate – ask big questions; are you who you want to be? are there things you want to change? what do you love about yourself? your life?
Decide – answer some of the questions above honestly. Then, decide to keep what works, add in what you think you need, and let go of what doesn’t serve you
Look ahead – what obstacles will arise by pursuing this endeavor? Will people challenge you? Will they reject you? How are you going to respond?
Move forward – put one thing into action right now that reflects your future self
The world will continue to move faster—give yourself the pause you need to watch it go by and see all that is available to you. You are limitless. Make this the year that you consciously decide what you want and courageously move toward it.